May 27, 2013

A Quick Quote...

"The one misery of man is self will, the one secret of blessedness is the conquest over our own wills.  To yield them up to God is rest and peace.  What disturbs us in this world is not "trouble," but our opposition to trouble.  The true source of all that frets and irritates, and wears away our lives, is not in external things, but in the resistance of our wills to the will of God expressed by external things."

-Alexander Maclaren

May 22, 2013

Good courage

"Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  -Joshua 1:9 nkjv

These are God's words to Joshua, the budding leader of Israel.  God tells Joshua no less than 3 times in the first chapter of Joshua that he needs to have courage, to not be afraid and to know that God is with him.

Lovely, lovely words.  To us, anyway, because we know how the story plays out.  Joshua kicks so much butt on behalf of Israel that it's not even funny.  By God's help he topples the strongest, most brilliantly designed city walls.  He sees the Jordan river completely dry up under the feet of some priests carrying an ark.  He fought battle after battle and won most of them with a group of ragtag nomadics who had probably the worst fighting technology of their time.  No horses, no chariots, just some clay pots and trumpets and blunt objects for the final go.  Un bloody believable.  But those of us rooting for Joshua are not surprised at these miracles because if we are rooting for him, we probably believe in the same God he did.  Full of power, full of care for His people, full of mysterious miracles is this God that we believe in.

But Joshua hadn't lived all those miracles yet.  He was handed this leadership position after Moses died with God whispering into His mind, "Whatever you do, have courage."  He probably got a little nervous after hearing that.  Comforted, but perhaps asking, "Wait.  If He's telling me to have courage that means there will be situations where I will actually need it... where my reason for having courage will boil down to this thrice spoken command and not the fact that things are going good and I can see a way out of our struggles."

Let me state something obvious: life is hard.  But each time X, Y and/or Z struggles come my way I'm always surprised.  Each time I have to walk myself through an emergency thought process: Quiet down, let it go, turn to God first, try not to keep yourself up at night living off purely and freshly distilled worry.  I suppose I get disappointed that despite trusting in this big, truly wonderful and miracle working God, crappy things still happen.

But God and later Jesus never set us up for this disappointment.  Jesus says quite clearly, "In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  Beautiful, right?  I still don't want to go through it.  That's nice, Cas.  You and every human ever.

So what is the answer?  What is the balance?  It's in having realistic expectations of life and solid, miraculous expectations/beliefs of God.

"Joshua, you must have courage.  I will give your people this land, but it will take some pretty plucky bravery on your part.  You'll actually have to show up to cities and fight wars.  You'll have to see some gruesome battles.  Some people in your company will die.  The land will resist.  But resistance is not defeat.  A delayed victory is not defeat, either.  This is no time for fear, this is the time for trust."

"Cas (or insert your name here), you must have courage.  I will conquer your struggles and take you to the tops of mountains and deliver you from your enemies.  I have and will overcome all these things.  But you need to decide right now that you're not gonna panic.  It's gonna take some nerve.  But you can be brave because I WILL perform what I promise.  I AM with you.  I am your permission to be bold."

I want my troubles to see me and say, "you've got a lot of nerve coming over here to face us."

I want to say from the layers of love and protection criss crossed over me, "Yep.  And I brought a Friend.  God of my heart and the universe, what are you gonna do with these scum-bag-worries of mine."

I want to see my warrior God unleash some epic smack.  I want to see fireworks.  I want to see impossible things happen.

But if I'm too afraid to walk out the door, I (or the people watching me, both to root me on and to see how I may fare) will never have the chance to know that my trust in Him was not ill placed.

If you are a Christ follower, I promise you have seen impossible things happen, starting with the salvation of your impossible-to-save soul.  What's to keep more from happening?  O my goodness, let it not be our attitudes and fear- after all He has promised, please let it not be that.

Be brave, be intrepid, be a lion and a lamb.  Because the only way to be as courageous as a lion is to know down to every depth in that heart of yours that you are only a lamb- dependent, hopeless without help... and that you are a lamb who is doted on by the most perfect, dependable, insanely strong God.  So go get em, lamb chop, because this was never about your strength and it never will be.  It's about His.  And that's enough to give even the weakest heart the realest hope.

May 15, 2013

You will find rest

 Yesterday I was searching.  Frantically looking for rest and for comfort.  For God to grant peace and stillness to me and take my mind off of trouble and stress.

Seems reasonable, right?  Like going to the grocery store.  I'm out of eggs and cheese so I go looking for eggs and cheese and then I buy them.  Logical.  I'm fresh out of patience and grace for the people around me and there is a large chunk of the entire world balanced on a single point right between my shoulder blades.  It's bothersome.  Dear God, I want you to remove it and make me happy and restful and at peace, amen.  In my head I'm doing pretty good because I'm coming to God asking for these things and isn't that what He wants me to do?  I'm not turning to alcohol or people or myself to address my need.  I'm being dependent on Him for my well being and that's what He tells me is a wise thing to do.

But I still feel my backpack full of world-chunk.  I still get raging pissed when the neighbor's yippy dog barks the same rhythmic car alarm bark for hours at nothing.  I still have tense muscles and a bad attitude that betrays me to others like dandelions in a front lawn.  No, you have not been taking care of your lawn.  It's obvious.

We will always, in this life, be strugglers.  We will never attain a perfect state on this planet.  Struggles are OK, for sure, and God is not put off by the fact that we have them every day.  Let's not have unrealistic expectations of how we go about existing on this strange plane between heaven and earth, trying to shed the latter for the former.  But here's where it goes wrong- here is the difference between always feeling wrung out and actually being able to enjoy the rest or comfort from God that He promises quite confidently to us:

It's a simple matter of order of operations.  The verse that I looked to seeking comfort (and have looked to for years) made me realize something completely different about "comfort" yesterday:

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."  -Matthew 11:28-30, NLT

Wait.  Slow down.  What is He essentially saying (and He takes the time to say it twice here, by the way)?

1) "Come to me... and I will give you rest."  Ok.  Got it.  Simple.  It looks like, "I need eggs so I go buy eggs."

2) "Take my yoke... Let me teach you... and you will find rest."  Ok, Cas, I can read.  What's the point?

The point is "I need eggs so I go buy eggs" or "I need rest so I go a-looking for rest" is NOT what Jesus is recommending we do here.  There is an order of operations to having a peaceful, restful heart.

Jesus recommends that we come to Him, seeking Him.  Seeking Him, not rest.  Seeking Him and all He has to say with the intent of making Him the object you want to attain- not just what He can give you.  It's true that our feelings of heaviness compel us to seek relief in the first place, but what we are signing up for is bound up in making Him our God first.  And after that, yes, we will experience rest.

Coming to God just to get something out of Him is not what this life is all about.  It's immature to treat God like that and yet I've lived my whole Christ-following life like this.  Good thing He's, like, crazy gracious.  He knows we start out with Him as spiritual infants.  We only scream out when we need or want something.  That's our whole interaction with Him: us coming to Him because we need, need, need.  We are babies in our relationship with Him and it makes sense.  But hopefully later on some sort of growth happens and we start coming to Him because of Him.  Because He's wonderful to be with.  Because His words and His perspective and His leadership is true life.  Because He is God and it is right that we worship Him.  Our God graciously makes worshipping Him awesome- it actually benefits us to worship God.  But benefits are not to make us selfish to where we start regressing and thinking that we can just come to God on an "I need" basis.  It's like calling your mom.  Hopefully you call her to talk to her and see how she's doing, not just to tell her you need money.

"Come to me... take my yoke [ie let me be your God, requiring your surrender]... let me teach you [about the way I designed things to work, about how my economy is different than the system the world has taught you]..."

...and yes, don't worry, you will find the rest that you know you need.  But why do you think that is?  Not because rest is a currency or a cup of something that He doles out because we've been good.  "Let's see... should I give her rest, peace or love... too many choices."  No- because He IS rest.  IS.  The Greek word there for "I will give" in the first part of the verse does not mean "hand out."  It means "to permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to collect his strength."  It is more of a state that happens to you or a permission, not a thing you receive.  "Come to me and I will rest you.  Calm you."

No doubt looking at God like this takes a little getting used to.  He basically says when you are feeling the oppression of the weight of whatever you're carrying around, it's not rest and relief you need, it's Him.  You need Him.  Alone.  I.E. your priorities probably need a shift and who you are ACTUALLY treating as your God probably needs some readjusting.  I have noticed that my experience as a Christian human is at its most disgusting, not when circumstances are at their worst, but when I have started seeing God as a cosmic Santa Claus and my comfort as the end all (or, to be more blunt, my comfort is the god I'm actually trying to serve).  Conversely, I can remember times when gnarly things were happening but because I decided early on I was gonna let go of my life and be His servant through and despite hard times, that amazing TRUE peace and rest was mine.  That whole "peace that passes understanding" verse is real.  Real if "peace that passes understanding" is a Person that I have a blood bought bond with who promised to never leave me.  If what I have is Him, then yes, I have peace.  "Aim at heaven," C.S. Lewis says, "and you will get earth thrown in."  When I make myself small (and rightfully so) before His greatness and love, everything that I TRULY need (maybe even things that I forgot I needed or didn't realize I needed) comes to me too cleanly and naturally to be mistaken for anything but His care.

April 24, 2013

Grace given

I'm not sure there are very many people immune to this: checking out what, when, how and why everyone else lives and trying to gauge one's own efforts thereby.  It's terrible.  A horrible habit resulting in all of us being exactly the same pent up, weighted down individual as our neighbor.  Forfeiting our creativity and uniqueness for an easier answer- just use someone who appears successful as your standard.  But the neighbor you look to is looking to their neighbor for a life measuring stick.  Blind people lead blind people.  AWESOME.

God has a better, more humane answer and as usual this morning I feel a little more free because of it.  As usual, it has to do with letting go of control.

Paul says we are to think about ourselves, not pridefully, but, "according to the measure of faith that God has assigned... Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them..." -Romans 12:3, 6 ESV, emphasis mine.

"Measure" as in "measure of faith" simply means, "a determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit."

There is a limit.  Just like the strengths, weaknesses, uglinesses and beauty that you were born with and had no say in, we have been given an allotted portion of faith (faith means, "conviction of the truth of anything").  And initially it might freak us out.  Especially the word "limit."

We don't take to limits well.  Look at how we scrape and twist and pull on how God has made each of our bodies.  Women slather their faces with multicolored powders and creams.  Some die from eating disorders.  A balding man is seen as a bummer.  We couldn't choose our bodies or personalities we were born with but we sure can try to iron fist them into the teeny tiny box our culture has created for them.  Why?  Because we are told if we do that we will be happy.

We are born with brown eyes or black hair or a certain skin hue on the outside and a measuring cup of the ability to believe on the inside.  The reality is we all have been given a different amount of the stuff.  Some get more hair, some get prettier eyes, but ALL have an ability to live a life for God that the rest of us will never understand.  And that't the point.  I will never understand your measuring cup because it's not mine and I can't see it anyway.  It is foolish to judge, whether positively or negatively your measuring cup and I am foolish to want mine to change- to wish I had your giftings, your charisma, your opportunities.  I don't care what colored contact lenses you use, you'll always have blue eyes when you wanted brown.  But the gal you're married to loves your blue eyes.  Who's to say either one is more or less valuable?  I may think I will be happy when I blend in and look a prescribed way, but if I'm honest I remember how every time I just let myself BE and live without thinking about it or worrying about it that I start to taste a little bit of the "happiness" that the world is trying to tell me I can only get from conforming.  Clever world.

It's all part of a grand plan that we literally have no control over.  Some will be martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ, some will live into their 90's and die peacefully surrounded by a gushy glob of 20 grandchildren.  We don't make those choices.  We don't have control.  But I see rest in that rather than alarm.  If I don't have control over what I have in my spirit- "the gifts differing according to the grace given unto us," then why don't I just give in to it and start living the way I, personally and specifically was created to live?  The reason looking at everyone else, faith-wise or physical-wise, is so terrible is because it makes us forget what we already have and neglect using it or honing it.  You've always wanted to lead worship, but what if your part in the grand scheme of faith is taking in strangers and showing them Jesus through THAT method.  You want a super-model-stick-thin body, but curves have been beautiful since the beginning of time and pretty easy to come by.  I always wished I was non-confrontational and non-passionate towards people.  If I could change myself I would stop getting into situations where I made someone feel awkward or angry because I asked too many hard questions and gave too many words into the situation.  Then one day Ian said, "Cas, why are you surprised that you make people upset sometimes?  You're an exhorter."

Duh.  God gave me a measuring cup that doesn't think it's bad or weird to lovingly confront people (although I'm still working on the loving part).  So I'm not gonna think it's bad or weird either.  A mental paradigm shift.  A letting go of control.  That's all it is.

What are your gifts?  What would you do differently if you stopped looking around at everyone else and just decided to be yourself?

March 28, 2013

long time no see

Wow.  I haven't written anything here in forever.  Man, that's what happens when busy-ness shakes your wits out of you.

I'm determined to pick up the dregs of my efforts here and carry on the blogging flag, though.  The time is now.

Nope.  The Busy Monster can't keep me from you, sweet blog.  I will return soon with words from my heart.

December 20, 2012

The Empress

Check.  This.  Out:

THIS, my dear friends, is a homemade printing press.  YEP!  Homemade.  And epic.  Made by none other than my sweet redhead himself, I hereby present to you (as I have christened her), The Empress.

They technically call it a Bottle Jack Press (instructions found here) due to using that hefty 6 ton hydraulic bottle jack to apply a CRAPLOAD of pressure to whatever is lucky enough to get sandwiched between those 2 lovely pieces of birch plywood.

Yep, that's a whole lotta sexy right there.  And I don't mean the press ;).  A real man spends a whole day of his weekend building a printing press for his wife in the middle of winter in a 55 degree basement :D

Everyone, The Empress.

The Empress, everyone.

I know we're gonna love having her around :)

October 25, 2012

I Hereby Begin A-Drawing-A-Day

With Sampson sleeping by the pellet stove:

July 12, 2012

Go to Seed

I used to the think that people who were really into gardening just didn't have very much going on in their lives.  They probably liked plants more than people and thats why yard work was all they could talk about.  I thought tending plants and nurturing harvests toward their glorious, life yielding destiny was what old ladies did with their abundance of spare time.  

But in college I developed the classic state of education induced poverty.  Learning there was a community garden near my house that would give me a source of water and a plot of land the size of a large bedroom for just six dollars a quarter, I hurled myself into gardening face first.  With wild, hunger driven zeal I hacked and tilled that awful central Californian clay soil and reddened my skin under the spring sun getting that garden into shape.  If gardening was what old ladies did in their spare time, then I had certainly underestimated the strength of most old ladies.  

Standing on the ready dirt one dewy morning with my hardware store bag of seeds that represented all the food I was aspiring to enjoy, I ripped open the first seed packet and dumped all 30 or so beet seeds into my hand.  In my palm's hollow, though I had yet to realize it, I held what would soon be more beets than I would know what to do with as soon as summer wore off.  "Well, I guess you just stick them in the ground…" I said to myself after half reading the instructions on the seed packet, " I guess it's that simple."  

so I did.  

And four minutes later, I stepped back and looked at my work.  It took four minutes to plant 30 seeds and my dirt plot, newly sown, looked exactly the same.  I don't know what I expected, maybe a sense of accomplishment.  But it was undeniable how anticlimactic sowing seed felt.  Kale seeds were even smaller and they kept getting stuck to my fingers, flicking everywhere except into my pre-planned soil rows.

It took just fifteen minutes to plant every seed I brought.  Each seed, as I released it, became a single, clear realization into my mind: "This is so easy.  It's just so simple.  Just drop it where it should go and the seed will do its own job."  Despite its visual modesty, sowing seed was so smooth and effortless and hope-filled, it was almost addicting.  The physical action of planting is what Jesus and later Paul would use to describe an invisible process: how man and God begin to be reconciled.   That each word of God is a seed, and those of us who believe His words become the sowers.  That God choses to reveal Himself to man by process, by the planting of a seed of truth that is destined to produce peace with God if brought to the right conditions in the loam of man's heart.    

There is no denying that the first efforts are the hardest.  Hearts and grounds are difficult to convince that there is the potential for real, brimming life hidden within them.  But the relaying of the seed of His message is immensely simple.  Simple, and often anticlimactic.  The struggle we usually have in planting seeds is not the planting, but the waiting and trusting it requires.  When the ground crosses it's arms and glares back at us, unmoved by what we have given it, we easily become discouraged.  But our discouragement is proof we have forgotten Who's seed we're dealing with.  We have forgotten that it is the zeal of Gods ardent love, wrapped humbly and elegantly in the message He gave us that sparks the first breath of a soul and a harvest from soil that previously could only sustain invasive weeds.  The success of the seed relies on the interaction between the seed and the soil, not the talent or good looks or even the tenacious desire of the sower.  

All seeds, including the seed of God's desire to save man, WANT to live.  They will grow and sprout indiscriminately- between sidewalk cracks or on sheer cliff walls.  Seeds will sprout trees, and tree's roots will one day rupture the very sidewalks that cities and towns try to contain them in.  All seeds, spiritual and otherwise, cannot be underestimated and their sowing and the importance of it should not be misunderstood.  It is a small and joyful action to sow.  The Creator of all seeds and salvation meant it to be so straightforward so that no ground would go uninformed, so eager He is to forever live with and within us.

And as much as our patience can fail towards the precious seeds we have sometimes shyly strewn, what is more inspiring or important than to see that which was dead come to life?   All those old ladies who gleefully sacrifice time, effort and money just to be a part of helping the ground respond to the information it is given have all found something: a kingdom in a field.  A redemption of sterile space.  An unpretentious investment producing immense satisfaction and order.  They, like the messengers of Jesus, realize the sheer joy of brand new life and just how exciting it is to propagate it, no matter what the sacrifice.  Though it may not seem like it in the moment, just a handful of His words faithfully laid within earshot of the churned, tender heart-ground that surrounds us is all that is needed to trigger radical, eternal vitality therein.

June 20, 2012


she needs light to live.

making this print was too much fun... enjoy!

June 6, 2012

print giveaway winner is...

and the winner of the print, folks, is sweet Kristina A. from back home in SLO (via Facebook)!  thanks guys for commenting!  don't worry though... i love giving things away... stay tuned!


June 4, 2012

New print in the shop!! Sheridan and Ruth

Poor Sheridan... will she know how much he loves her?

They are part of an art show I've signed myself up for in October- stay tuned for more!

May 28, 2012

Print Giveaway!

Answer the question below by leaving a comment and I'll put your name in the pot of comments from here and Facebook to win this print:

which would you choose for yourself:
-a tattoo
-a root canal


a name will be drawn June 6th!

May 18, 2012

chicken and noistrade

I love how this turned out and I love this process!  This is a four color linocut reduction print, which means i carve a little away... print with color... carve a little more away... print with a  darker color...

It's also called suicide printing, because by the time you get done, there isn't anymore block to carve and you can't ever reproduce this image ever again...


Also, on a whim, I threw some music I had made forever ago up on noisetrade-  check it out and see if  you like it!  Go easy on me though- I'm an artist, not a musician :)

April 13, 2012


poor out of place octopus... this could be a problematic situation for him...

do you ever have days like this? 

his only comfort is that i will soon turn this into a two colored print :)

April 6, 2012

"And purple all the ground with vernal flowers."

this tunnel of blossoms kills me.

I took these shots not only to show how lovely it is here in spring, but to show off the photo tricks my new Mac can do :D

smug, so very smug.

April 2, 2012

The sun, against all odds, embraces us... the cat is lost in silent worship of it.

March 30, 2012

What Does Worship Look Like?

Throw away the pictures in your head of people standing in orderly rows singing in a church.  Forget about pianos, guitars and even voices.  Right now, banish the mental concepts you've carefully memorized and filed under the category of "worshipping God."

Because I don't want to remind you of what "worship" has come to look like for you, dear modern day Christ-follower, but what it looks like to God.

Picture yourself sitting outside on a comfortable and slightly chilly spring night.  You have a mug of tea and it's kinda burning your hand a bit, but you're just staring out into nothing, making sense of the memories of the day.  Suddenly, based on some new information being radioed in from your sense of smell, all your thoughts abruptly begin to dematerialize and dissolve.  The scent of night blooming jasmine quietly glides into your unsuspecting skull, blazing tranquil and disrupting spiral lines throughout your well groomed brain.  For one divine split second you are able to think about only one thing: flowers.  It is a coup d'etat of tangy calm and pleasure.  Your never ending stream of thought has been successfully subverted.  Sensing you are starting to have a bit too much fun, the brain scrambles to organize a counter revolt and tries to bring you back to stress and worry and demands, but you only use this as an opportunity to figure out what you're smelling.

The scent registers as jasmine and in a thrilling panic you begin to take in gulping breath after breath,  frantically, greedily holding onto the reverie as long as you can. But your tea cools and your body chills and it's time to go back inside.  You enter the house refreshed and moved.

That feeling that the jasmine in my story has brought you as you smell it... the assault of clean beauty... the invasion of speechless, blanketing peace.  THIS, loved Christian, is how God feels your worship.  THIS is what your love does to Him.  It tosses Him down.  Seizes His heart.  Soothing, delighting, tranquilizing, if you will.  Our simple love brings Him pleasure, brings Him calm, brings Him brain shattering delight.

Somehow, God has a sense of smell (I've never seen Him, so let's both use our imagination on this one) and somehow all that we give Him turns to fragrance.  Noah knew it in Genesis 8 when God "smelled a soothing aroma" from his post-flood sacrifice.  The Hebrews knew it for thousands of years- half the point of a burnt offering was in the idea that God could could sense it by our equivalent of "smell" and that He wanted to sense it.  John knew it in his vision as God silences all of heaven just to receive bowls of prayers-turned-incense from His loved, blood bought ones.

Can you believe that we can affect God like that?  Why does He let us do that to Him?  His love- His hopelessly tender heart for us- has cost Him dearly, namely a Son.  He breaks every boundary of mercy and grace in the universe just to make Himself excessivly approachable to us, all for our love to be able to rise unhindered to Him.  How could such a small wisp of affection from us small, imperfect beings be anything worth "sensing" to Him?  And yet, in His wonderfully illogical addiction to us, our feeble love has become His pleasure, His desire.

So now that you've erased all you know from your "This is Worship" file in your head, add back in the guitars and voices.  Add in music and prayers and deeds.  But make sure you burn them.  Set them on fire, releasing their aroma high.  You do not stand in ordered rows and nice clothes singing songs before God.  When you worship Him you stand, in reality, like a bowl of billowing incense, breathed in and savored, pleasing and soothing and very costly indeed before a God who just loves you.

March 22, 2012

Dear Stressmonger Residing Within Me:

You have had quite an influence on me over the years and have become to me so many things.

You have been a plastic, insulated jacket I put on in summer.  I tell myself that your style is flattering and that the air around me should be this hot anyway.  I remind myself that everyone else is wearing one in these conditions so there must be a good reason why.  We as humans are known for how logical and wise we are in groups.

You have been a brainwashed choice I default to.  A hardwiring in my soul that trips switches in my brain.  I  have brazenly yelled,  "Release the powerful adrenaline chemicals, dear Stressmonger!"  No matter if their constant presence destroys me.  If it weren't for you, I might have found some peace and rest when I needed it most... which is a nice idea until I imagine everyone calling me an irresponsible hippy and offering me their own plastic jackets out of courtesy as I walk down the street.

You have made me believe that if I don't hold you high, feel your sway, I will shame my people.  Create a sensation.  Stand out.  

Because of you, I have chosen not to listen to Jesus, who tells me not to fear, not to worry, not to strive.  I apparently have not been ready to trade you for such lofty commands...

Why?  Because I haven't been sure what I would I do without you, Stressmonger.  Who would spend the lengths of time mulling over my treasured irrational fears, rehearsing and reliving them in my head?  Who is capable but you of handling these things so willingly?  I suppose this is why I hold you in such reverence.

But for how often I bow before you, I must confess you have given very little back.

Actually, nothing has been given back.

Actually, you take from me all the time.  You shorten my life.  You wreak havoc on my physical body and splinter my soul into whimpering pieces, stealing all the strength I might have used to revolt against you.  You exist where there is dark unknown and pride to protect.  You exist where I must have control or I will surely die.  You are my own private masochism.  And no one can help me because I see your plastic pressure jackets on every person around me.

Except for a few Christ followers I know...
Just a few.
Yes, I remember now.  They are so impervious.  They brim over with stillness.  I'm addicted to their presence.  They don't even strike me as "irresponsible hippys."  They pay their bills and work regular jobs and they give of everything they have and somehow there's always more to give.  I never feel like I'm taking up their time when I'm with them.  The air around them is redolent of grace.   It's funny how I am a Christian too, but have not understood what these people have... that maybe Jesus meant what He said with all that "fear not" business.

Stressmonger, is it possible that you've been lying to me?  That I can choose against your tyranny?  Is it possible to shed your choking heat for clean trust.  Because that's what this is about, isn't it.  You live off my self-trust.  You live off my pride.  But He, Jesus, says these are things I can spend.  Things I can trade.  The pride and the self trust are the price.

And compared to what I'm starting to see of you, trading my pride and control for the peace that exists where you AREN'T is not seeming so crazy anymore.

Ah!  But it's so radical.  I feel like an extremist.  Like an hesitant revolutionary.  I will surely lose all my friends and my job.  I will then become homeless and no one will believe that I am better off without you.  They will shake their heads and cover me (bless their hearts) with their own plastic jackets as I lie sleeping in the street.

I have told this to my Jesus and to my Christian friends, Stressmonger, and they tell me it isn't so.  That I will be so glad to let you go.  I would not be able to hope that I could safely get away from you, except I have seen it so clearly in the eyes of people who have let Jesus own and protect them.  It's so radical but it's so true.

I'm writing you to finally say this: I'm convinced we were never meant for each other.  Please take all your baggage and leave my soul.  I'm sorry, but Someone better has come along.  Someone outside of me.  Someone with grace and freedom in His intentions.  He is the opposite of you.

I probably should have broken up with you before things got out of hand and you were controlling every single part of my life, but Jesus reassures me that it's not too late.  He isn't afraid of the extent of your damage to me.  And frankly, He's just better company.  I'm sure you understand.

Cheers, my sad, controlling friend.  I expect you will try to seep in, someway, somehow, but know you will have my relentless and jealous Savior to handle if you do.

And now, I will know it too.


March 16, 2012

I love when

the post office runs over my mail and punctures the book inside.

They're just so good at maiming... it's almost poetic.

March 14, 2012

Including you.

He creates a stage.
He creates light (before the sun begins to exist, mind you).
Separates water from land and makes the land heave into green.
He turns His attention to the sky where He sprinkles strong and weaker points of light, like it's nothing to cast a sun into sky.  As easy as putting away the dishes.

He spreads His attention out to the heights and the depths- the deep waters and deep skies suddenly redolent with life.

Closing in from the outskirts, He lets things that walk on land abound.

And closing in even more, He makes one He patterns after Himself.  Later He will make another.

There is so much order in how God does things.  Peace and control and wild creativity, all under the sway of profound order.  He lets me spy on what creation on His terms looked like because He knows it will incite interest in my disarrayed soul.  I want to look at my life that He is creating each day- adding new things, conquering more and more darkness with the addition of light- and see it as ordered and under control.

I want to have a clear headed moment where I remember that God does not sit there with a hopeless, blank stare on his face when He looks at my life or the injustices of this world.  The blank stare and the sense of incurable inadequacy are all mine, not His.

If I know He's conducting this symphony we all woke up in with His characteristic order and peace, then there is nothing left to do but to breathe and follow.  Keep up with the music and the prompting.  Follow along with this song that sings to the world of abject love and salvation.  Simply play when my turn comes with whatever instrument He has placed in my hand.

Scary, awful things happen to all of us.  If we aren't careful we will start to believe that this life is just a roller coaster nightmare car that we are thinly strapped into and mercilessly intimidated by.  But I remembered that I have a Driver for this clunky jalopy and I look over at Him for hope.  He lacks the sallow panic I am fighting back.  He is relaxed and collected and has not changed since the beginning.  And no wonder- looking at Him changes the experience.  I suddenly feel like I'm slowly driving to the store with my over-cautious grandma in her huge Volvo.  I ask Him why the speed, why the hurry, why the perceived threat and He answers back that He's actually quite confident that the car is not careening out of control at all.  He answers back very simply that He loves me.  How could I not be satisfied with that?  How could I not see the art?

Our God who is governing us is known for both drama and peace, ravaging beauty and meaningful hardship.   For precise choreography and scrupulous organization.  Most of all He is known for victorious endings.  All He does is fantastically original- we never know what will happen in the story!  But we can be excited that His faithful motif of peace and order override it all.

Including you.